Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is a term used to describe pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs. The pain usually appears after and is exaggerated by repetitive activities such as running or walking. Contributing causes are flat feet, calf tightness, improper training techniques, worn out or improper shoes/sneakers, as well as running or walking on uneven surfaces. The inflammation in the shin results from the repeated pull of a muscle in the leg from the shin bone (tibia).
This condition usually occurs bilaterally (in both legs) and can be alleviated by rest, use of nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, icing, a change in training habits, stretching exercises, and properly fitted shoes. A foot and ankle surgeon can treat the condition, recommend proper shoe gear, and evaluate whether orthotics are needed. If not treated, shin splints may eventually result in a stress fracture of the shin bone.
Here are some stretching exercises for shin splints:
*Stand facing a wall with a wide stance and the injured leg stretched behind. The other leg is in a semi-lunge. The heel is down and the knee is straight on the back leg as they lean forwards, using the wall for balance. A gentle stretch should be felt in the back of the lower leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Stand on a step, making sure there is something to hold on to (a wall or banister, etc). The toes should be positioned right on the edge of the step, with the heel over the edge. The heel is slowly lowered, keeping the knee straight, until a stretch can be felt. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Stand facing a wall with the foot of the calf to be stretched at the back. The knee of the back leg should be bent towards the wall, keeping the heel on the floor. A stretch should be felt in the lower part of the back of the calf. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*Kneel down and sit on your heels. Gently push down on the heels to stretch the front of the leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. This stretch can be increased by stretching one leg at a time and gently pulling the knee up.
*Stand with your toes of one foot on the floor on the outside of your other foot. Bend the weight-bearing leg to push your other ankle towards the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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